Saturday, December 10, 2011

Plodder goes to church, not his own, Part 1

OK, I'm deep into retirement, about three weeks worth, and having resigned the church where I was pastor for 14 years, I'm wide open to attend other churches on Sunday. I've always wanted to visit around on Sunday but the churches I've served have expected me to show up in my own every Sunday. Now I'm free to, that's right, church shop!

So, how's it going? Well, not so bad.

So far, the pastor hasn't preached at either of the churches I've visited. And, since I called ahead to the church I'm attending tomorrow, I know he will not be in the pulpit there either. Plodder will have struck out in hearing pastors' pulpiteering.

What's it take to find a pastor preaching in his own pulpit these days? I didn't know that the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas was such a big vacation time. I was always very busy during that period. Oh, well.

I'd have to say that folks in the churches have looked askance at me and my lovely wife in church, as if to say, "Who are you?" I knew a couple of folks in both of the churches we visited and they spoke. Both churches had canned greeting times and folks spoke to us then. Aside from that, we were left alone.

I always made it a point to approach people I knew were visitors in my church, before the service. That was always well received except for the guy who told me, "I didn't come to church to be interrogated" (there's a story in that one).

One church had a soloist do a concert, a solid hour starting thirty minutes into the service. Um, ah...well, I'm a patient man and didn't have to beat the Methodists to the restaurant anyhow. Thank God she had her own music. That church needs, desperately, a new piano. My wife, a music person, just about crawled under the pew when the piano was played. Notes no one had ever heard before came out of that alleged piano. Surely someone notices that stuff.

The other church had a denominational employee filling in. After he declared, several times, that he probably wouldn't be invited back, his way of boasting about his being unfettered by any homiletical restraints, I think his prophecy was self-fulfilling. I'm guessing the vacationing pastor heard about his supply guy.

I know the pastors of both these churches and we will revisit them in the future. They are both good churches with good folks.

One of my wife's concerns is that I would sit smugly, fold my arms, and critique the pastor's message. So far there hasn't been a pastor or any Biblical message.

Maybe this week. This is proving to be a bit of an adventure.


Tim Dahl said...

I know our piano has issues. The church council, deacons, and finance committee look askance at me for wanting to tune it more than once every two years. They refuse to believe that the sound changes with the temp. This also coincides with their unwillingness to moderate that temp using various methods. Every time I bring it up, I'm looked at like I'm an idiot.

Now, when are you coming to TX?! You don't have to preach. I'll be sure to be here, and I'll have "sermon critique sheet" waiting for you. ;)


William Thornton said...

My preaching is certainly worth critiquing. I haven't heard any preaching so I have yet to critique.

The first chord from that old, upright piano sent my wife in to a
catatonic cringe. While I can't discern if a piano is out of tune, I recognized something seriously amiss here.

I have no present plans to travel west of the Chattahoochee...but would love to get to TX.

I say again that these are both good churches. We all have our quirks.

Dave Miller said...

Iowa will roll out the welcome mat as well. But it was 5 below here last night so you might want to wait a few months.

Bruce H said...

When I moved and changed churches I considered myself a "Professional Visitor" after 6 months. I always attended at least 3 times to get past all my critiqing and critical views. Most people do not know how to find a church today. Maybe you can take your experience and develop a "Professional Visitor" tract to be destributed among the SBC. Hopefully, the members will read it to find out how they should be acting all the time.

William Thornton said...

I'm afraid that I would be villfied (not to mentioned divorced) were I do take the attituce of a professional visitor.

I will offer an occasional observation, in Christian comity of course.

We pastors, especially ex-pastors can be vicious to one another.

I look forward to my second visit to these churches.

Gary said...

To William: Hang in there. You'll actually hear a sermon at some point before 2012. Just keep plugging.

To Tim: We are a little church, but we tune our 3 pianos at worst every 6 months, and more often if the temperature/humidity wildly fluctuates.

Note that we are NOT a "Praise Team"-centric church. I have an absolutely fabulous pianist and we do worship accordingly. If I did NOT do that, I would be tarred/feathered unceremoniously.